By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Today's fluorescent fixtures are light years away from the plain Jane originals that illuminated early kitchens, bath and laundry rooms. You'll find a large selection of fixtures, including wall sconces, that meet Energy Star standards of efficiency. The range of size and style in fluorescent fixtures has never been so diverse, making them a good choice for any room in the house.
To replace an existing ceiling fixture with a new 36-inch, two-tube fluorescent one, an electrician will charge $179, which includes the labor and cost of the fixture. If you have electrical skills and tools, you can make the swap for $95, the cost of the fixture, and save 47 percent. You'll need the basics: electrical tape, a screwdriver, a pair of wire snippers and, of course, a ladder. It helps to have someone on hand to hold the old fixture you're removing and the new one you're installing while you work on the ladder.
Installing the new fixture is the reverse of removing the old one, so pay attention to the wires as you disconnect them. Don't forget to turn off the power to the circuit serving the light at the main service panel before you begin, sage advice for doing any electrical work around the house.
Plan ahead: If you are painting the ceiling as part of the project, remove the old fixture and paint the ceiling before installing the new fixture.